LINDA NOLAN ON LIV­ING LIFE TO THE FULL DE­SPITE CAN­CER I’m tick­ing off my bucket list.. dream trip to New York, Donny and Marie Os­mond in Ve­gas, Santa in La­p­land and some brand new Louboutins

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Saira Khan - BY HALINA WATTS Show­biz Edi­tor [email protected]­daymir­ror.co.uk

LINDA Nolan has her fu­ture – how­ever long that may be – all care­fully mapped out.

From jet­ting to New York for a star-stud­ded break to a pic­ture­post­card Christ­mas in La­p­land, she is de­ter­mined to savour ev­ery se­cond of life as she bat­tles the can­cer that took her sis­ter Bernie at just 52.

With the dis­ease con­tained and checks ev­ery six months in­stead of three, Linda, 60, is pre­par­ing to ful­fil a string of ex­cit­ing plans on her bucket list.

“The can­cer hasn’t spread and that’s the main thing. That is the worry, of course,” says Linda. “It’s treat­able and not cur­able – and the treat­ment is work­ing well. The only side-ef­fect is arthri­tis in ev­ery joint which is very painful, but at least it’s not can­cer.

“You have to be op­ti­mistic. There are lots of things I want to do with my life. I’ve been given a se­cond chance.”

Top of her bucket list is a trip to see her teenage idols. “I’m go­ing to see Donny and Marie Os­mond in Ve­gas,” she says. “My friend Liz Em­mett has paid first class Vir­gin Air­ways for me to go in Oc­to­ber for 10 days – me, sis­ter Mau­reen and my best friends.

LUCKY

You have to be op­ti­mistic. There are lots of things I want to do with my life LINDA NOLAN ON LIV­ING IN THE SHADOW OF CAN­CER

“I had Donny’s pil­low case when I was 13. I’m still starstruck when I see him.”

And, of course, she will be dressed in her finest. “Louboutin shoes were also on my bucket list and now I have them. It’s all be­cause of Liz who’s been a Nolan fan all her life and now she’s a good friend. She ar­ranged my birthday and the meet­ing with Don­nie later this year, and the shoes. It’s amaz­ing.”

Linda is plan­ning a trip to La­p­land for her whole fam­ily in­clud­ing her broth­ers and sis­ters and their chil­dren. She says: “I would love to take my great neph­ews and nieces while they all still be­lieve in Father Christ­mas, I just need to save up.

“And I haven’t been to New York since I was 15. We had two weeks there while sup­port­ing Engelbert Humperdinc­k. I’d love to go and see the Christ­mas Pa­rade.

“To be hon­est, I’ve been lucky that a lot of things I’ve wanted to do, I have al­ready done. But those things would be re­ally spe­cial.”

In Fe­bru­ary, Linda cel­e­brated her 60th with a huge party where the Nolans re­united on stage.

She re­veals she snubbed four peo­ple she’d had a rift with, send­ing them let­ters to say they weren’t in­vited. But now she says she has for­given them. “I can move on,” she laughs. “I don’t want to waste my time think­ing about them when they aren’t think­ing about me. I read that ‘if you can’t for­give, then you can’t move on’. Now I don’t have to worry about them.” She’s had wor­ries enough since be­ing di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer in 2006. Af­ter a gru­elling fight she was given the all-clear five years later. But in 2017 a tu­mour was found on her hip.

PUPPY

Now she just wants to live ev­ery day as though it is her last. And she is sup­ported by her sis­ters, in­clud­ing Loose Women star Coleen, 54, who re­cently bought her a puppy so she’s never lonely. Linda says: “It’s a black shih tzu called Betty Boo. Some­times she is the only rea­son I get out of bed be­cause she needs a walk. My sis­ters are a great source of en­cour­age­ment too. They tell me, ‘Live ev­ery day as if it’s your last’.

“It’s about en­joy­ing life and keep­ing in touch with friends. Now when I’m low I think, ‘Peo­ple are more worse off than you’.”

She says if her symp­toms wors­ened, she would have no hes­i­ta­tion us­ing con­tro­ver­sial cannabis oil to man­age pain. But she won’t cut out all treats from her diet.

“Peo­ple tell you ‘do this, do

that’, but I like my Mr Whippy with a flake. I try to cut down on su­gar though,” she says. When we last caught up, Linda was con­sid­er­ing in­ter­net dat­ing. She now says: “Four of the Nolans are sin­gle, in­clud­ing Coleen, but we don’t go out on the prowl. So I got to­gether with friends to set up an on­line dat­ing pro­file. We opened a bot­tle of wine and it got hys­ter­i­cal. My friends were writ­ing ‘hor­ri­ble – she’s a bitch’ un­der the de­scrip­tions. We were shout­ing, ‘Swipe to the left, no swipe to the right’.

“Dat­ing turns you into a 15-year-old again. If I were to go on a date I’d have my friends in the restau­rant look­ing out for me. You have to be care­ful.”

While Linda is en­joy­ing life, she was re­cently re­minded of a dark pe­riod fol­low­ing the loss of hus­band Brian 11 years ago.

The pair were mar­ried for 26 years be­fore Brian died of skin can­cer. In the depths of her de­pres­sion, Linda wrote sui­cide notes to her sis­ters. She ex­plains: “I stum­bled across them not long ago. Ev­ery let­ter said, ‘I know you will un­der­stand’ – be­cause at the time you think they will, but of course they wouldn’t.

THER­APY

“I will prob­a­bly al­ways have de­pres­sion but I man­age it with med­i­ca­tion and coun­selling. I hope I never go back there.”

She uses cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy to stop self-harm­ing. She says: “When I’ve got no one to call at 3am, I will call the Sa­mar­i­tans. Some­times all you need is an ear.” But lately there have been no calls to Sa­mar­i­tans and Linda is pre­par­ing to re­turn to work.

“I’m hope­fully go­ing back on Loose Women and I’m ready to go on tour with a mu­si­cal again,” she says. “You have to work to pay the bills. I do love work­ing.

“As for The Nolans get­ting back to­gether, I’m not sure.

“It will be six years next month since Bernie passed away. I can’t be­lieve how we have man­aged to live with­out her.

“It’s too hard now, but maybe one day. Never say never.”

MUST SEE Linda’s a big fan of Donny & Marie HEY­DAY Linda with her sis­ters at her 21st FAM­ILY TRIP To see Santa at La­p­land AP­PLE OF HER EYE Can’t wait to re­visit New York BACK For a 2009 tour. Linda, Coleen, Mau­reen and Bernie

CATCH­ING UP Linda and Halina

DEFIANT Linda says she’s been given ‘se­cond chance’

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